self-care

Day 3036: Life is renewed

Since I have to renew this blog every day, sometimes I renew the title by reusing something from the news.

That photo from the Boston Globe might renew your memory of this photo from two days ago:

Life is renewed every day, and today I’m renewing

  • my hair with a visit to Mialisa salon,
  • my travel plans to Nashville, by talking with my friend Jenn in South Carolina,
  • my courage about traveling someplace I’ve never been before,
  • my hope that I’ll be able to connect with amazing blogger Christopher Waldrop while I’m there, and
  • my original song “Everybody’s Somebody’s Asshole,” to make it appropriate for family-friendly Open Mics in Nashville.

Life is renewed whenever I commit to being in the moment, so let’s renew by reviewing these moments together:

Life is renewed when we help another person, take a nap, and listen to music, like this renewal of Bach’s 2 Part Invention in D Minor by Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band:

Life is renewed whenever you authentically express your feelings and thoughts, so consider leaving a comment below.

Life is renewed by gratitude, so thanks to all who help me renew my life by blogging every day, including YOU.

Categories: life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism, self-care | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Day 2878: Vigilant

As we enter a cold, dark season of illness and political uncertainties ahead, I feel the need to be vigilant.

I am vigilant about

  • the health of those I love,
  • my own health,
  • other people’s anger and tendencies towards violence,
  • ignorance,
  • denial,
  • misunderstandings,
  • mistakes,
  • money,
  • lies, and
  • systemic injustices.

I assume I am not alone in feeling vigilant. I’m just trying to figure out how to turn off my vigilant mind at night so I can get more sleep! It’s difficult to be vigilant when you’re exhausted.

I took these photos yesterday while I was being vigilant (and if you’re vigilant you might spot my son Aaron in one of them):

We need to be vigilant, every moment of our lives, to be what we ought to be AND to keep our refrigerators clear of old condiments.

I definitely need some sort of break from all this vigilance.

My vigilant and diligent husband Michael recently introduced me to this wonderful song — “Little Tornado” by Aimee Mann.

I will be vigilant as I look out for your comments, below.

Vigilant thanks to Aimee Mann, Aaron, Michael, Harley, the Daily Bitch, and all those who help me remain vigilant about blogging daily, including YOU.

Categories: 2020 U.S. Election, insomnia, life during the pandemic, personal growth, self-care | Tags: , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Day 2865: The Impossible Wait

While we’re waiting the impossible wait for election returns in the USA, here’s my rewrite of “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha:

THE IMPOSSIBLE WAIT

by Ann Koplow (with thanks to lyricist Joe Darion)

To wait the impossible wait,

To fight the unprincipled foe,

To bear with unbearable feelings,

To wait for returns that are slow.

To right all the right-leaning wrongs,

To love when there’s hate all around.

To try when your heart is too weary,

To keep your feet firm on the ground.

This is my plan

To wait for the vote

Through all of these hours

And keep hope afloat.

To fight the alt-right,

Without question or pause.

To be wiling to march into hell

If Trump breaks voting laws.

And I know if I stay calm and true

In this difficult quest,

The votes might turn more states to blue,

And I might get some rest.

And the world would be better for this

That each vote scorned and covered with scars,

Amid all the anger was counted,

To wait the impossible wait!

© Ann Koplow, 2020

While we’re waiting the impossible wait, feel free to sing those lyrics here.

And here‘s Luther Vandross singing the original lyrics for “The Impossible Dream.”

You can also check out my latest photos and captured images during the impossible wait.

Wait for it ….

… it’s not myself I’m loathing right now.

Feel free to join me during the impossible wait in the comments section, below.

Gratitude makes even impossible waits bearable, so thanks to all who are waiting this out with me, including YOU.

Categories: 2020 U.S. Election, 2020 U.S. Presidential election, personal growth, photojournalism, politics, self-care | Tags: , , , , , | 22 Comments

Day 2805: Healthy boundaries

Healthy boundaries are, according to “How to Set Healthy Boundaries” at positivepsychology.com:

[…] those boundaries that are set to make sure mentally and emotionally you are stable” (Prism Health North Texas, n.d.). Another way to think about it is that “Our boundaries might be rigid, loose, somewhere in between, or even nonexistent. A complete lack of boundaries may indicate that we don’t have a strong identity or are enmeshed with someone else” (Cleantis, 2017).

Healthy boundaries can serve to establish one’s identity. Specifically, healthy boundaries can help people define their individuality and can help people indicate what they will and will not hold themselves responsible for.

While boundaries are often psychological or emotional, boundaries can also be physical. For example, declining physical contact from a coworker is setting an important boundary, one that’s just as crucial as setting an emotional boundary, i.e., asking that same coworker not to make unreasonable demands on your time or emotions.

I’m writing about healthy boundaries today because I’m approaching the boundary of my 17-day staycation from work. Healthy boundaries are particularly critical during these pandemic days of working from home, when the boundaries between work and non-work are blurred. Also healthy boundaries are especially important for self-care when you are working in a caring profession, like I do.

In order to set healthy boundaries, I find it useful to

  • write down a list of what I WILL do and what I will NOT do,
  • share that list with others, and
  • follow that list.

What I WILL do now is share my photos from yesterday. Let’s see if we can find any healthy boundaries in them.

As you can see from these two photos …

… Harley’s boundaries are changing, which is healthy for both of us.

This image from the The Kindness Rocks Project (which has healthy boundaries) …

… inspires my music pick for today.

Here‘s the Playing for Change version of “Listen to the Music” …

… and here’s a quote from Playing for Change:

In music as in life, the things that make us different make us stronger. All the various instruments, tones, perspectives, and cultures in this recording combine to create a new version of this classic Song Around The World.

The idea was born a few years ago during breakfast at the Byron Bay Bluesfest in Australia. Our friend and drummer, Peter Bunetta, introduced me to Tom Johnston of The Doobie Brothers and we talked about taking “Listen to the Music” around the world. We started the track with an acoustic guitar demo played to a click track and then added bass from Colombia, tablas and veena from India, and then headed to the Redwood Forest in Northern California to record and film Tom Johnston live outside. We then recorded and filmed Patrick Simmons and John McFee playing along to the track in a park in San Diego. The journey then continued throughout North and South America, Europe, The Middle East, Asia, and Africa. This final version features 30 musicians from 12 countries united through their love of music.

Listen to the music and change the world!

-Mark Johnson, PFC Co-Founder

Here’s a comment from that YouTube video:

Geno M
10 months ago
This is going to sound dramatic and fake but I’ve literally been suicidal for the last 2 months especially this past weekend. I am on medicine and seeing therapists but there is a lot of downtime between getting help and being alone with your thoughts. These videos help me cope and really help me think about the good still left in the world making me try and appreciate what I have and my family. Thank you for uplifting folks and spreading good through music.

There is a healthy boundary between Geno M and me — that is, I can feel empathy for his struggle without rushing in to try to save him. These healthy boundaries are especially important for people who are in a caring profession, like I am.

If leaving a comment is on your list of what you will do today, I will leave you a healthy reply in the near future.

Thanks to all who help me create these posts and healthy boundaries, including YOU.

Categories: life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism, self-care, therapy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Day 2481: Information for healthy living

Just now, when I searched my thousands of blogs for a previous post about “information for healthy living,” this is what WordPress told me:

Nothing Found

Sorry, but nothing matched your search criteria. Please try again with some different keywords.

 

And here I thought I’ve been giving you, my readers, information for healthy living for approximately two thousand, five hundred and seventeen days!

Well, as I like to tell people, there’s no time like the present, so let’s begin:

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That photo helps explain and corroborate today’s title, but there’s no information for healthy living there!

Let’s see if there’s any information for healthy living in the rest of my photos from yesterday:

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When I search YouTube for “information for heathy living,” lots of videos show up, including this one:

 

Yesterday, I told my wonderful Primary Care Physician —  Dr. Laura Snydman at Tufts Medical Center —  that I hoped  my dancing was as good for healthy living as medicine is.

Here‘s Bailey and Gino from So You Think You Can Dance (which I think is great medicine):

 

Feel free to add more information for healthy living in the comments section, below.

Here’s some healthy thanks from your grateful blogger:

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, self-care, therapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Day 1539: The No List

No. 1.   Here’s The No List that inspired this post:

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No. 2.  The No List on that napkin holder included

  • No high fructose corn syrup,
  • No hydrogenated fats,
  • No added growth hormones in our fresh meat,
  • No artificial preservatives,
  • No artificial sweeteners.

No. 3.   The No List at Whole Foods ended with this:
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No. 4.  My personal No List includes

  • No bullies.
  • No cruelty.
  • No sexism.
  • No racism.
  • No homophobia.
  • No ageism.
  • No regrets about saying “No” in the past.

No. 5.  Here’s a list of quotes about No:

No is a complete sentence and so often we forget that.
When we don’t want to do something we can simply smile and say no.
We don’t have to explain ourselves, we can just say “No”.
Early on my journey I found developing the ability to say no expanded my ability to say yes and really mean it.
My early attempts at saying no were often far from graceful but with practice even my no came from a place of love.
Love yourself enough to be able to say yes or no.”
― Susan Gregg

“Let today mark a new beginning for you. Give yourself permission to say NO without feeling guilty, mean, or selfish. Anybody who gets upset and/or expects you to say YES all of the time clearly doesn’t have your best interest at heart. Always remember: You have a right to say NO without having to explain yourself. Be at peace with your decisions.”
― Stephanie Lahart

“Say no to everything, so you can say yes to the one thing.”
― Richie Norton

“Most women are all too familiar with men like Calvin Smith. Men whose sense of prerogative renders them deaf when women say, “No thanks,” “Not interested,” or even “Fuck off, creep.”
― Jon Krakauer, Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town

“Whether they’re family or friends, manipulators are difficult to escape from. Give in to their demands and they’ll be happy enough, but if you develop a spine and start saying no, it will inevitably bring a fresh round of head games and emotional blackmail. You’ll notice that breaking free from someone else’s dominance will often result in them accusing you of being selfish. Yes, you’re selfish, because you’ve stopped doing what they want you to do for them. Wow. Can these people hear themselves?!”
― Rosie Blythe, The Princess Guide to Life

“It takes effort to say no when our heart and brains and guts and, most important, pride are yearning to say yes. Practice.”
― Cole Harmonson, Pre Middle Age: 40 Lessons in Growing the Hell Up

“He wasn’t used to people saying no, and Eby felt sorry for him, the way she’d always felt sorry for those who had everything and it still wasn’t enough.”
― Sarah Addison Allen, Lost Lake

“Information overload (on all levels) is exactly WHY you need an “ignore list”. It has never been more important to be able to say “No”
― Mani S. Sivasubramanian, How To Focus – Stop Procrastinating, Improve Your Concentration & Get Things Done – Easily!

“We must say “no” to what, in our heart, we don’t want. We must say “no” to doing things out of obligation, thereby cheating those important to us of the purest expression of our love. We must say “no” to treating ourselves, our health, our needs as not as important as someone else’s. We must say “no.”
― Suzette Hinton

“To exist here, I’ll have to become skilled in saying no—an art in which I was once well accomplished, but one I no longer care to practice.”
― Doug Cooper, Outside In

“It is extremely important to be able to make negative assertions. We must be able to say what is ‘not me’ in order to have a ‘me’. What we like has no meaning unless we know what we don’t like. Our yes has no meaning if we never say no. My chosen profession has no passion if ‘just anyone would do’. Our opinions and thoughts mean very little if there is nothing we disagree with.”
― Henry Cloud, Changes That Heal: How to Understand the Past to Ensure a Healthier Future

“If the person you’re talking with continues to press you for more or can’t seem to accept your answer, then you are being harassed. I know that sounds hard for people-pleasers to accept, but it’s true. No means no.”
― Suzette Hinton

“Many survivors have such profound deficiencies in self-protection that they can barely imagine themselves in a position of agency or choice. The idea of saying no to the emotional demands of a parent, spouse, lover or authority figure may be practically inconceivable. Thus, it is not uncommon to find adult survivors who continue to minister to the needs of those who once abused them and who continue to permit major intrusions without boundaries or limits. Adult survivors may nurse their abusers in illness, defend them in adversity, and even, in extreme cases, continue to submit to their sexual demands.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“If something is not a “hell, YEAH!”, then it’s a “no!”
― James Altucher

“Sometimes “No” is the kindest word.”
― Vironika Tugaleva

“Learn to say “no” to the good and the advantageous, in order to receive the best.”
― Sunday Adelaja

“In order for us to practice self-control, we must have a goal. We must have something we are saying “yes” to, which necessarily comes with things that we must say “no” to. We use self-control to maneuver ourselves toward this “yes.” This goal must be entirely our own. The minute another person is choosing and managing our goals for us, we have left self-control behind.”
― Danny Silk, Keep Your Love On: Connection Communication And Boundaries.

“When you say no to the wrong people, it opens up the space for the right people to come in.”

― Joe Calloway, Magnetic: The Art of Attracting Business

“Until you learn how to confidently say NO to so many things, you shall always say YES to so many things. The real summary of a regretful life is a life that failed to balance YES and NO. Yes! A life that failed to recognize when to courageously say NO and when to confidently say YES!”
― Ernest Agyemang Yeboah

“NO” is a complete sentence. It does not require an explanation to follow. You can truly answer someone’s request with a simple No.”
― Sharon E. Rainey, The Best Part of My Day Healing Journal

No. 6.   Heres “Say No to This” from Hamilton. 

No. 7.  Too-expensive tickets to Hamilton have been on my No List, so I’ve said “yes” to just singing along to the soundtrack.

No. 8.  Did you know I said yes to more photos yesterday?

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No. 9. Because not sharing is not caring, sharing gratitude is never on my No List.

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, self-care | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 49 Comments

Day 1402: Yikes!

I knew that “Yikes!” would be today’s post title when I looked at my favorite watch yesterday.

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Here are just some of my reasons for saying “Yikes!” right now:

  • I have to go in to Boston for more surgery today, exactly six weeks after my open heart surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
  • The reason I need today’s surgery is that my Implantable Cardiac Device, which I received in May 2015, caused two deaths because of early battery depletion.
  • I had to stop eating and drinking last night at midnight, and I am  not reporting for surgery until 11:30 AM.
  • The weather is going to be unseasonably warm and beautiful today, but I will be otherwise occupied.
  • The United States presidential election, less than a week away.
  • The Chicago Cubs might win the World Series tonight.
  • If I feel up to it, I hope to sing at an Open Mic Friday night.
  • Because of its latest update, my iPhone no longer recognizes my thumbprint but has lots of new features which I haven’t had time to learn.

Speaking of my “improved” iPhone, here are all the other photos I took yesterday.  Do any of them make you go “Yikes!”?

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Yikes!  The words “warming” and “naturally” in that last photo, above,  are reminding me of my first therapy session since my open heart surgery.  Yesterday, my therapist George and I came up with a soothing ritual to help me prepare for today’s surgery —  to place both my hands over my heart, to warm and naturally soothe my still painful chest cavity.

What is making you say “Yikes!” today, in your world?

Yikes!  If I actually am able to sing at an Open Mic night in two days, will I remember all these lyrics?

Yikes!  Joni Mitchell sounds great there.

Yikes!  Look at the time!  I have to get ready for my surgery.

Yikes!  I get so cranky when I can’t eat or drink when I want to!

Yikes!  I hope you leave a comment.

Yikes! I almost forgot to thank all those who helped me create this post and you — of course! — for visiting, here and now.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, self-care | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 64 Comments

Day 1382: Add Sparkle to Your Life

Yesterday, as I continued to sparkle with life after my open heart surgery on September 21, I saw this sparkling and lively sign:

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What helps you add sparkle to your life? Personally, my life sparkles when I …

  • let go of fear,
  • see the love around me,
  • take good care of myself and those I cherish,
  • embrace all feelings,
  • am hopeful about the future,
  • am realistic about the past,
  • accept both the bruises and the sparkles of the present,
  • allow my mind and body to heal from past wounds, and
  • take new steps every day.

Do any of my other photos from yesterday add sparkle to your life?

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Here‘s some sparkling music from Earth Wind & Fire:

 

Please add sparkle to my life with a sparkling comment.

Gratitude adds even more sparkle to my life, so here’s a message to all those sparkling ones who helped me create this post and to you — of course! — for whatever sparkle you bring,  here and now:

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Categories: heart surgery, personal growth, photojournalism, self-care | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Day 1375: Band wagon

Time to join the band wagon of Ann’s readers, who are used to seeing her begin posts by defining phrases like “band wagon.”

band·wag·on
ˈbandˌwaɡən/
noun
1. a wagon used for carrying a band in a parade or procession.
2. a particular activity or cause that has suddenly become fashionable or popular.
“the local deejays are on the home-team bandwagon”

I had a recent experience with definition #1, when one of my  Boston cardiologists offered to pick up me and my boyfriend Michael at Boston’s Logan Airport in a band wagon, no matter when  we returned home after my September 21 open heart surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.  However, I foiled that band wagon by returning late at night and way before anybody expected me to —  six days after my heart valve replacement surgery.

By the way, I just noticed that WordPress is suggesting I invite my readers to join a band wagon (definition #2) by including this message at the top of post-creation page:

Encourage your US-based users to register to vote by adding a subtle prompt to your site.

If you were in my band wagon  of classic American movie musical fans, you might add a third definition of “band wagon,” like so:

3. the most intelligent AND fun American movie musical ever made starring Fred Astaire (as opposed the most intelligent AND fun American movie musical ever made starring Gene Kelly, which is Singin’ in the Rain).

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Because I like to join band wagons of people recovering from a traumatic event like surgery who treat themselves exceedingly well, I watched the beginning of The Band Wagon yesterday morning, which included these two musical numbers (here and here on YouTube):

No  matter what is going on in my life, that second number from The Band Wagon puts a melody in my heart, gives me a singable happy feeling AND a wonderful way to start my day.

Now, would you like to join the band wagon of Ann’s readers who enjoy looking at  images captured on her iPhone from the day before?

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Those last two photos feature Dr. Deeb Salem, one of my band wagon of cardiologists (but not the one who offered to pick us up in a band wagon at the airport).  In the first photograph, Dr. Salem  is with Dr. Marvin Konstam, 31 years ago, as they performed the first heart transplant at Tufts Medical Center. In the second photo, Dr. Salem is with the person who is writing this here blog post on band wagons.

Now, would you like to join the band wagon of people who keep telling me I look way too good to have had heart surgery a scant two weeks ago?

Because I always like to join the band wagon of people polite enough to express thanks when they are feeling gratitude, here’s a message to all those who helped me create this post and to all those who are reading it, here and now:

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Categories: heart surgery, personal growth, photojournalism, self-care | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Day 1374: The near future

Whenever you’ve had a harrowing experience, it helps to plan for the near future, especially if you focus on what you adore.

For example, exactly  two weeks ago today I had major heart surgery which was, honestly, pretty harrowing. So it’s helping me to plan for and focus on the near future, which includes:

  • My college roommate, Maria, whom I adore, flying in from Portland Oregon, which I adore,  to stay with me and my boyfriend Michael, whom I adore,  for eight days.
  • An appointment this afternoon with my Primary Care Physician, Dr. Laura Snydman, whom I adore.
  • Getting a ride to my doctor’s visit this afternoon from my sister, Ellen, whom I adore.
  • Seeing Mel Brooks, whom I adore, in person in a few weeks, accompanied by my neighbor Karen, whom I adore.
  • Attending a performance of “An American in Paris,” which I adore, the following week with my friend Barbara, whom I adore.

It also helps to look at the near past, especially when my progress is so encouraging, which I adore.  For example, last night — for the first time since my surgery — I went for a short walk outside alone, which I adored. Here’s what I saw:

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In your near future, you could plan to adore this post even more, as I show you other pictures from yesterday of things I adore:

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Here‘s the music I am listening to as I write this near-future post, which I adore:

Is there a comment in my near future, which I would adore?

I adore everybody and everything that helped me create this near-future post and also you — of course! — for including me in your near future.

Categories: heart surgery, personal growth, photojournalism, self-care | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

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